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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful for Traditions

It's been a good holiday weekend, complete with our family traditions.
I thought I'd share a couple.
We're not exactly the go-all-out-and-be-festive kind of folks. We keep it a little low-key.
Actually, I think boring is the right word.

Cents of Gratitude

One thing we do, at the Thanksgiving table, is pass a Mason jar to count our blessings.

I start collecting shiny new pennies (that must be marked with the current year) around July. I'm never sure how many pennies I'm going to need until Thanksgiving day is upon us. If everybody is here (and that's rare), I need 15 pennies.

Sound easy, but it's not always.
This year, I had a boatload of pennies. For some reason, last year I barely found any. Almost had to switch to dimes!
Each place setting gets a penny (yes, I wipe them down with a Clorox wipe to minimize the cooties--money is gross).
We pass the jar, so each person can tell something he/she is thankful for.

It's a little hokey--and everyone but my kids (and me!) think it's lame. (Told you we're boring.) But I persist.

It's neat to see the jar starting to fill up. BabyD likes to empty out the jar and ask why we don't have pennies for some years (we weren't home) or why we had only four some years (no one else was here that year).

I figure some day, after I'm dead and gone, my kids will fight over who gets possession of the jar.
Or they'll cash it in and go eat cherry pie in my honor.

Cranberry Sauce

Another important part of Thanksgiving is the cranberry sauce--jellied, not whole.
No, I don't make it. But I have perfected my method of getting it out of the can in one perfect piece, without blemishes--which is an extremely important part of the presentation.
I call it Thanksgiving art.
A representation of the abundance of America's modern food system and all
that technology has to offer us in convenience packaging.

At least, that's how I justify it. I suspect some family members (one of whom just might be reading this--and You know who You are!) think it's tacky. But I don't care. You have to understand that this has become particularly difficult in the last two years, since the food processors have changed the can design, and you can no longer simply open both ends with a can opener (ha!). But I have overcome! So, behold my perfect can o' cranberry sauce...

Makes you hungry just lookin' at it, doesn't it?
LittleD and I love this stuff. Sometimes we crack open a second can to help get us through the leftovers.
(I really should have taken the picture after flipping it on its side, so you have the full effect. It slices in beautiful, perfect circles that way. But, I was in a hurry to get the grub on the table.)

Light Up the Town Square

Black Friday is not a big shopping day for us. Sometimes we go out late in the afternoon to pick over the leftovers at a store or two. This year, I did venture out for three very specific stops--but not at 4 am. I went out about 9:30 and got my goods (nothing big or fun, mostly stocking stuffers) and was back well before lunch time.

Anyway, we do venture out late in the afternoon to enjoy communing with our neighbors on the town square. About three years ago, in an effort to draw more visitors to downtown, our little village started stringing old-fashioned lights from the Court House to all the businesses around the square. The trees are lit up, the window fronts are decked-out, the lamp posts are gussied up. It looks so pretty when some lucky kid wins the drawing to flip the switch with Santa.

This is the one brief highlight to Daylight Savings Time--since it's dark when I'm driving home, I get to enjoy the canopy of lights when I'm commuting home every night!

The whole event has really become a festival, because they block all the streets, set up tents with activities (corn hole, face painting, games, crafts) and a music stage. Practically every business is open handing out cookies or fruit cake or cocoa or popcorn. The fire fighters serve chili--a short respite from turkey leftovers.

Another highlight is the live nativity. They always rent camels to join the menagerie. How often do you get to pet a camel in your home town???

Gawking at the Christmas Lights

So, alas, it's Saturday and we have to get out of the house for a little exercise. I spent much of the day sewing Christmas gifts. We'd watched the movies we checked out from the library (Fiddler on the Roof was today's favorite). We cashed in a Groupon and did some bowling (I won, of course... even though no one will admit it because the ball counter messed up my score and didn't count TWO strikes!!!). Then we swung by a FABULOUS light display at Reynold's Farm Equipment in Fishers, IN. It was bigger and better than ever. I've met the guys who put this thing together, and, I must say, it's quite creative for a bunch of men who work on tractors and combines!

My favorite was the Bumble, remember this guy?

So, this is the official launch of the Christmas Season for our family. All we need is a little snow!

We'll get the tree up one of these days--after LittleD decides it's time. She has a December birthday, so she gets to decide if the tree goes up before or after her birthday. Most years, she's gung-ho to get it up while it's still November. This year, however, she's wanting to wait until after. I knew this day would come. I know too many people born in December who feel like they've been ripped off, and the birthday gets lost in the Christmas season. So, The Husband and I decided when she was born to let her decide when she was old enough. Besides, even if we wait, we'll still have a couple of weeks with that monstrosity dominating our living room and getting destroyed by the cat.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving full of your own traditions! I'd love to see what you do at your home.


  1. A camel? How cool is that? We need to get out and see the lights, but it will have to wait until Tink is feeling better. LOVE your penny jar. May have to borrow that idea!